The idea for b came to Charlotte while she was volunteering over two years with the homelessness charity Crisis. During this period she saw some of the gaps where the needs of the homeless population were not being met, and knew that her design skills could come in handy. ‘I was working in King’s Cross, which is pretty much a homeless hub,’ Charlotte tells us. ‘I would come in half an hour early and just spend time chatting to people. Housing is obviously a big problem, but on a day-to-day basis, the problems are easier to solve.’
These day-to-day issues included vulnerability and isolation, which she set about tackling through the creation of b. The concept is that the hand-held device connects to passersby via an app, encouraging social connections and interactions between rough sleepers and those working or living in the same area. It’s also a personal safety alarm and can accept electronic donations. In Charlotte’s plan, homeless people can redeem these donations against food, spots at night shelters, education or courses, or savings towards long-term goals. Wall-mounted hubs around the city allow people to charge the device and to check their balance. The touchscreen interface shows users what they could redeem for their credits, and where they can collect them.